Updated: Mar 20
Yarn trade shows are the place to go if you’re a knit or crochet designer or tech editor. They provide the ultimate showcase to pitch your skills to exhibitors, as they will be your potential clients, either for designing or tech editing, or both.
What is a Trade Show?
A trade show is a place where members of a particular industry are all in one place to showcase their latest products and services. It's a great place to interact face-to-face, and to network with other individuals from the same sector.
For the yarn industry this will include
new pattern collections,
industry keynote speakers - often a keynote speaker will give an exclusive talk on trend reports which will be free to attendees, and these findings can provide essential guidance for your business planning.
What is another name for a Trade Show?
A trade show can also be called an exposition, and exhibition or a trade fair.
Who can go to Trade Shows?
Trade shows are not usually open to the public; they are not places to buy products. They are open to business owners and traders who are looking for products and services to sell.
The people that can go to trade shows include the press, photographers, business owners and professional from the specific industry that the trade show is covering.
Who exhibits at Creative Trade Shows?
At knitting and crochet trade shows, you will see:
Big yarn brands, small yarn brands and family-run yarn brands and they will be showcasing their latest yarns and collections as well as their regular long-standing products.
Companies that make knit and crochet equipment such as knitting needles, crochet hooks, project bags and all the extras that knitters and crocheter needs.
Magazine publishers and book publishers with their book collections and latest launches.
Catwalks and fashion shows, as well as presentations and industry talks.
Why are creative trade show exhibitors your potential clients?
Yarn brands needs designs to showcase their yarns, which means they will also need tech editors.
Publishers need designers to write books, which means they will also need tech editors and book editors.
Companies that make and sell knitting and crochet equipment will also need to showcase their products being used, so they could also be on the look-out for designers.
Magazine editors and their team will be on their stands, so it’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself and chat about what you do and leave them your card.
How to maximise the opportunities:
Go with a plan:
1. Do your research:
There will be a list of exhibitors prior to the show itself. Trade shows are usually very large events with lots of exhibitor stands, so take some time to research the exhibitors and identify the ones that that fit with your own niche.
Create a list so that you know how many companies you are aiming to visit.
If you’re only visiting for the day, make sure you’ll have enough time to visit the companies that you’ve identified.
If your list is rather long, split it down into ‘must see’ and ‘would like to see’, and target the ‘must see’ list first.
Practise introducing yourself to exhibitors. Prepare your opening introduction (also called an elevator pitch) so that you can introduce yourself clearly and confidently in just a couple of sentences.
You should be aiming to tell them:
Who you are, what you do, and why that matters.
Once you’ve introduced yourself, find out a little bit about the person you are talking so that you know if you’re talking to the right person.
For example, if you’re on a yarn stand and the person is a sales rep, then it’s likely that they are not the right person to speak to about designing or tech editing, in which case you can ask them if they have any contact details for the person who commissions designs or who organises tech editing. Then you can follow up with that person after the show.
You can still engage in conversation about their new products (they will be showcasing their new collections and products, so this is an easy conversation starter).
Find out more about the company, as it’s great to build knowledge and information about how the different yarn companies work.
If you are talking to the right person, then you can gently bring the conversation around to designing or tech editing so that you can chat about your services and how you can help them.
5. Take your business card or a PR leaflet:
Don’t forget to take your business card or. your PR leaflet, with full details of where your new contacts can find you. If you include your social media accounts on your business card, make sure beforehand they are looking great, and that they showcase your work and look professional, as it’s likely they will go and check you out and first impressions really count.
6. Follow up:
As well as leaving your business card, take their details too so that you can follow up at some point in the near future, after the event has finished. If it’s a busy event, they may forget to look you up, so a follow-up email to them will act as a reminder of your conversation.
7. Arrange a meet-up:
If it’s a popular event and you know that other designers and tech editor are going too, then beforehand you could arrange a meet up at the event as an opportunity to know fellow designers and tech editors so you can support and help each other as your grow and develop your businesses.
8. Check the Agenda:
Often there are really interesting and important industry talks and presentations from top industry professionals, which will give you a real insight into the industry. Make sure that you make time to attend any presentations that are important for you and your business.
9. Take plenty of photos:
Take photos for your own audience so that you can share the experience with them, but if you take photographs of individual stands, do request permission first and say what you’re taking the photo for as some of the products may be embargoed. When you share the photos (after any embargoed dates), make sure you tag the company and the conference creators.
10. Share your story:
Use the events of the day and your photos to share your story but don’t share anything that you’ve been told or shown in confidence.
Use your story in the first instance as a long blog post, then create a more punchy version for your newsletter, then pull out snippets for social media. Don’t forget to tag anyone that you mention in your social media posts.
I hope these tips inspire you to find out more about yarn/craft trade show and have given you an insight into the importance and benefits of attending.
From my own experience, I have secured a lot of work in the past from yarn trade shows that developed into a regular income stream for my business, including book editing, proofreading, tech editing and designing. My new-found connections led me to teach at other craft shows for many years too.
In addition, I have found them a great place to arrange meetings with current clients too, as most people working in the industry will attend on one of more of the days to see what’s new, and to find inspiration. More than anything, they are incredibly inspiring and uplifting.
The main show in the UK is CHSI Stitches which is held at Birmingham NEC and you can register your business here if you want to attend (not a sponsored link).
Do let me know if you find this useful and if you put it into action and I’d love to hear your success stories. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org